Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Free speech on campus

From the article:
The call for the free exchange of ideas at all costs isn't persuasive to many college students today who recognize that when markets are unregulated, real pollution, and sometimes lasting damage, occurs -- and that historically it's groups that have been vulnerable who are most consistently wounded by hate speech (and worse).
In the last several years, such pollution has often come from right-wing provocateurs who speak at institutions of higher learning to add credence and energy to racist, homophobic, and sexist attitudes and practices. This dynamic increases in intensity as harmful effects are repeated. When those from dominant groups or in positions of campus authority insist that this is not real harm because it's not physical violence, or when First Amendment fundamentalists claim that any constraint on speech is a step on the slippery slope toward tyranny, we can detect the ideology of market deregulation at the heart of free speech dogmatism. Students who have seen deregulators' bold attempts to solidify existing hierarchies recognize that power matters in regard to speech as well as other things. It's never the case that everybody gets to speak; not everyone gets heard.

The task of colleges and universities is neither to produce a pure, unregulated market of ideas nor to champion the civility of the drawing room. Our task is to promote inquiry, not outrage -- to promote critical engagement, not condescension. In that regard, we have to do more to increase intellectual diversity in higher education.

Administrative leaders and faculty need to go beyond a defense of the First Amendment to bring a wide range of ideas to their campuses. In a culture of intellectual diversity, students learn from one another how to understand the logic of viewpoints different from their own. There is no formula or litmus test for this. In contrast to the demagoguery we are sure to witness on the campaign trail, it's our job as educators to curate environments of productive heterodoxy, environments in which students can grow more sure of themselves by being more open to others.

No comments:

Post a Comment